HOLY LAND – During his pastoral visit to Jordan, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, spoke about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which opened on January 22nd and will end on January 30th.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which was established in 1908, was first called the Octave of Christian Unity. It was renamed “Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 1935, at the initiative of Fr. Paul Couturiers, a French priest later called the “father of spiritual ecumenism”. This year, the theme of the Week of Prayer, chosen by the Middle East Council of Churches, is “We saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).
During his speech about the Week of Prayer, Patriarch Pizzaballa emphasized the desire of Christians to “live in peace, agreement and good relations. In a word: to live together.” According to him, “the Holy Land and Jerusalem are ultimately a workshop of ecumenism, a reality lived in the flesh by our faithful, by our Christian families, 90% of whom are mixed, Catholic and Orthodox families. To live together “forces” us to reckon with each other continuously, every day.”
The Patriarch went on by stating that the relationships shared between the different Christian confessions cannot only be depicted by “the tensions in the Holy Sepulchre, broadcasted on television from time to time.” He insisted that it did not “reflect the reality of ecumenism in the Holy Land, which thrives on the yearning for unity of the local Christian population. […] As a parish priest of this Church,” he added, “I must say that our faithful are sincerely voicing this plea. Wherever I go, whether in schools, churches, parishes, the message is: we want to celebrate together, we want to be together, we want to see you together. […] Christians here want to be together, pray together, and live as one community.”
He also highlighted the issues experienced by Christians regarding the rigidity of some ecclesiastical institutions and insisted on the need for them to “speak with one voice, from the political and social point of view, on the situation in general. This has become manifest especially in the last years, as demonstrated by a series of Joint Statements on different local events. And we try to do so almost always.”
His Beatitude Pizzaballa concluded by mentioning the Synod, which has opened on October 9th, 2021. “A propitious time awaits us for listening, and it’s that of the synodal path.” The Patriarch also announced that a letter addressed to all the leaders of Jerusalem’s Churches, would soon be published. The aim of such a letter will be to inform people and communities about the Synod but also to invite them to discuss and voice their opinion about synodality.